Holidays in EU/EFTA Member States
Why take the EHIC with you?
The EHIC, or European Health Insurance Card, will confirm your entitlement to treatment during a stay in an EU or EFTA Member State other than your own. Under the EHIC, you will be entitled to:
- necessary and unplanned treatment,
- treatment under the public healthcare system,
- the treatment provided so that you do not have to return to Poland and you can continue your stay in health-safe conditions.
Who decides about treatment under the EHIC?
Always the doctor who is providing you with medical assistance. They will take into account your state of health and the planned duration of your stay in the country concerned.
Please note. If you would like to receive planned treatment or return for continuing treatment, please apply to us for authorisation for such treatment. Such benefits are not covered by the EHIC.
How to obtain treatment?
If you need medical assistance, take your EHIC, identity card or passport with you and go to the nearest public healthcare facility in the country you are staying in. Show the documents to the doctor or facility administration.
You can only obtain treatment in a facility that operates as part of the public health service. If you are confused about where to go, open the tab with information about treatment in each individual country. You will also find contact details for the local authority that will help you.
Please note. The doctor must see the card to check that the details it contains comply with the template set out in EU legislation. Providing the card number alone is not enough.
If you do not have the EHIC and you need to obtain treatment, check how to get a document replacing the EHIC on the ‘Travelling without the EHIC’ tab.
How to obtain the EHIC?
Go to the 'EHIC' tab.
Select an application for travelling as a tourist (for a temporary stay in another EU/EFTA Member State for education, for a visit to the family or for any other purpose not related to work, planned treatment or change of residence)
Under ‘Obtaining the EHIC’ tab, you will find information on:
- how to apply for the EHIC,
- the expiry date of the EHIC,
- how long it takes to process your application.
Please note that the reverse of the application will provide information on the documents required. Read it carefully before submitting your application.
- If you are travelling to the United Kingdom, please read the rules that apply after 31 December 2020 under Brexit
- If you are not a citizen of an EU Member State, you cannot benefit from free treatment with an EHIC in the following countries: Iceland, Norway, Liechtenstein, Switzerland and Denmark.
When are you entitled to the EHIC?
You will obtain the EHIC if you are entitled to health care benefits in Poland and you are travelling as a tourist.
Persons entitled to health benefits:
- insured persons (e.g. working or retired persons),
- non-insured persons who, however, are entitled to treatment under special entitlements (e.g. children under 18 who cannot be declared insured by a parent or grandparent).
Such entitlement is granted after completion of certain official formalities, e.g. registration of:
- the employee for insurance by the employer,
- the pensioner by the Social Insurance Institution (ZUS) or the Agricultural Social Insurance Fund (KRUS) (which pay their pension),
- the child as a family member by the parent.
How long is the EHIC valid for?
The EHIC is valid until the date specified as the expiry date of the card.
Please note. If you lose your entitlement to benefits provided by the National Health Fund while your EHIC is valid, you cannot use it any more.
This will happen, for example, when:
- you stop working (this applies to people employed under an employment contract, contract of mandate, appointment, and soldiers and civil servants),
- you are granted unpaid leave,
- you suspend or terminate your economic activity,
- you stop being unemployed,
- you lose or have suspended your right to a pension,
- you lose your status as a farmer,
- you lose your entitlement to a social benefit (other than unemployment benefit, pension or retirement pension), e.g. permanent social welfare benefit, pre-retirement benefit or care benefit,
- you terminate your voluntary health insurance contract with the National Health Fund.
The entitlement to use the EHIC then expires after 30 days. This also applies to persons you have registered for health insurance as family members.
If you are a student or pupil, your entitlement to the EHIC expires:
- 6 months after leaving school or deletion from the list of pupils – if you were a pupil,
- after 4 months from the date of graduation or deletion from the list of students or doctoral students, and after you have turned 26 years of age – if you were a student.
Contact your local branch of the National Health Fund if you have obtained the EHIC as a tourist, and for example:
- you have started working in another country,
- you have started an economic activity in another country,
- you have received a pension or disability benefit from another country.
We need to establish where the contributions should be paid and who should cover the costs of your treatment. This is because you can only be covered in one EU or EFTA Member State.
Please note. If you use the card without authorisation, you put yourself at risk of having to pay back the costs of the benefits you have received.
Can I obtain treatment if I do not have the EHIC?
Yes, but the foreign healthcare provider is then entitled to bill you for the treatment, at the rates applicable to private patients. Therefore, you should ensure that you obtain the EHIC before you travel.
With the EHIC, you will obtain all medically necessary healthcare free of charge, as long as it is provided free of charge to persons insured in the country concerned.
If you have forgotten to obtain the EHIC, you can apply for a Temporary Replacement Certificate (PDF – 242kb). This is a document that entitles you to the same benefits as the EHIC. It is issued when an entitled person has not obtained the card or has lost it.
The paper format of the certificate makes it possible to send it to the e-mail address or fax of the healthcare facility provided in the application.
How to obtain the certificate?
- Download, complete and sign the application, available on our website.
- Indicate the dates on which the benefit was provided, or the start date if the treatment is still ongoing.
- Indicate how we should send the document back to you.
- Scan the application form or take a photo of it and send it to your local branch of the National Health Fund.
- We will issue the certificate for the duration of the benefit – and therefore for a limited time.
If you cannot download the application from our website:
- Write the letter in your own handwriting, providing all the details required in the application, i.e. your first name, surname, home address, date of birth or PESEL, the period for which the certificate is to be issued, a statement that all the details contained in the application are legally and factually correct, and a contact telephone number, if any.
- Sign the letter and send a scan or photo to your local branch of the National Health Fund.
We will issue the certificate within 3 working days if we can confirm your entitlement to benefits based on the data we have. If we fail to do so, we will ask you to provide documents that prove your insurance entitlement.
If you cannot make the application yourself, ask your healthcare provider or another person you are in contact with for help. However, you must authorise them to make the application on your behalf.
Will you be reimbursed if you have neither the EHIC nor the certificate?
If you have neither the EHIC nor the certificate, you will have to pay all the bills that the healthcare provider has issued to you.
You can apply for reimbursement of these costs from:
- the insurance institution of the country where you obtained treatment, if it has such procedures,
- the provincial branch of the National Health Fund – upon your return to Poland or by sending the application by post immediately.
The reimbursement procedure requires a decision on the amount to be reimbursed. To do this, we will send an enquiry to the insurance institution of the country where you have been treated, asking what proportion of the costs would be settled between the institutions if you presented the EHIC. Once we have received the response, we will reimburse you for the costs incurred in the amount stated.
Under ‘Reimbursement of medical costs in EU or EFTA Member States’ tab, you will find detailed information on the reimbursement procedure applicable in Poland.
The application is intended for persons insured in the National Health Fund, family members registered by insured persons, non-insured persons with the entitlement to benefits, whose travel to an EU or EFTA Member State other than Poland is related to temporary stay. It can be a tourist travel, a study (school/study) travel or any other temporary travel which is not related to work, change of residence or planned treatment.
Please note. The validity of the EHIC is calculated from the date of application.
Where can I get information about the EHIC?
If you want to know more about the EHIC, you can:
- call the Patient Information Line at 800 190 590, which is open 24 hours a day, 7 days a week.
- visit one of the provincial branches of the National Health Fund and ask our employee.
Why is the EHIC not always recognised in other countries, especially Germany?
The EHIC is not usually recognised in the following situations:
- The doctor did not consider the benefit to be medically necessary.
- The benefit is planned.
- The benefit is not funded in the country of residence.
- The doctor or medical facility does not have sufficient knowledge of the card and its rules.
You can then contact the insurance institution at your place of stay, e.g. the health insurance fund in Germany, to ask for an explanation or to intervene with the doctor or medical facility where you are being treated.
Is childbirth funded under the EHIC?
- Yes – like all other benefits that become necessary for medical reasons during a stay in another EU/EFTA Member State. That is, any benefit in kind in relation to pregnancy or the birth of a child, such as when an early labour begins during your stay. However, the nature of these benefits and the duration of the stay should always be considered so that the travel does not have to be precipitated because of an obligation to undergo treatment in Poland.
- No – when you travel abroad to give birth (planned benefit). If this is the case, you must obtain authorisation from the National Health Fund for such treatment.
Are vaccinations available in Poland when using the EHIC issued by an institution of another EU or EFTA Member State?
Yes, if the doctor so decides. Take your vaccination card with you to your appointment. If you do not have it, your doctor may refuse the vaccination.
If you are staying in Poland for less than 3 months, you do not need to be vaccinated under the Polish National Vaccination Programme. However, if you want to and it does not interfere with the vaccination calendar in your country, you can be vaccinated. Pay for the vaccine, and settle the cost of the vaccination with the National Health Fund.
If you wish to continue with the preventive vaccinations provided for in your country, and the type and schedule of vaccinations differ from the ones in force in Poland, you will have to pay for the vaccination.
Can a non-insured person obtain the EHIC?
Yes, if the person is entitled to benefits on other grounds.
The most usual beneficiaries are children and adolescents under 18 years of age, and women who are pregnant or are about to give birth or are recovering after the childbirth. They must have Polish citizenship or have their place of residence in Poland. For more, see Article 2(1)(2) and (3) of the Act on publicly funded healthcare benefits.
Why cannot the EHIC be issued with a default validity – for all persons e.g. for one year?
The EHIC is issued for the expected duration of the insured person’s entitlement. This period may vary depending on the basis on which the person is insured.
How long does it take to obtain the EHIC?
If you apply in person, you will obtain your card the same day.
If you submit your application by post or electronically (e-mail, IKP, ePUAP), we will process it within 3 working days of receiving it. From June to September, it can take up to 10 working days. The arrival time of the card will depend on how long it takes the post office to deliver it.
Do I need a photograph to obtain the EHIC?
No. We issue the EHIC in accordance with the visual standard set out in Decision No. S2, which does not include a photograph.
Can the EHIC issued by the National Health Fund be used in Poland?
No, it cannot. The EHIC issued by the National Health Fund confirms the right to medical benefits in an EU/EFTA Member State other than Poland.
Does the EHIC cover transport of the patient to hospital and possible transport to Poland, including for a person who has died abroad?
- Yes – if the transport to the hospital is provided by a public healthcare provider. The EHIC will cover the costs of such a benefit according to the rules applicable in the country concerned.
- No – for international transport. The National Health Fund does not cover the costs of medical transport to Poland under the EHIC.
You can apply to your local branch of the National Health Fund for authorisation to cover the costs of transport to your place of treatment or residence in the country – by the cheapest means of transport possible in your current state of health. However, the anticipated costs of treatment abroad must exceed the costs of transport and treatment in the country. This is not applicable to the transport of the deceased.
Is there a charge for issuing the EHIC?
No. The EHIC is issued free of charge.
Does the EHIC entitle me to obtain benefits in countries other than EU/EFTA Member States, e.g. Egypt, Tunisia, Turkey?
No. The EHIC entitles you to obtain healthcare benefits only if you are in another EU or EFTA Member State. This is due to the provisions on the coordination of social security systems, which apply only within the European Union and EFTA Member States.
If you are travelling abroad outside the EU, take out a commercial insurance policy to cover your medical costs if necessary.
Why do EHICs issued by institutions of other EU/EFTA Member States have a chip but the Polish card does not?
The chip on the EHIC card is optional. The Administrative Commission has allowed for the additional placement of data, also on an electronic medium. However, the fact that your card does not have a chip cannot be grounds for a foreign doctor to refuse to provide you with medical assistance.